'Remarkable' Territories to be home to new park


The federal government has announced plans to create a new national park reserve in the Northwest Territories.

'Remarkable' Territories to be home to new park

The federal government has announced plans to create a new national park reserve in the Northwest Territories.

The announcement marks the second major expansion of protected areas since last summer, when Prime Minister Stephen Harper pledged to extend the boundaries of the Nahanni National Park Reserve.

"It is truly one of the most remarkable places in the world," Environment Minister John Baird said as he stood beside aboriginal leaders and environmentalists during a ceremony at the Museum of Nature. The announcement "is another concrete example of the government of Canada's commitment to the country's North."

The region is home to several animals listed under endangered species legislation, including grizzly bears and the northern mountain woodland caribou. Also home to Dall sheep, the park is known for spectacular landscapes and waterways. The government announced it would contribute $500,000 over two years to help aboriginal communities finalize an impact and benefit plan.

During the next four or five years, Mr. Baird said, several thousand kilometres of land will be protected from new economic activities such as mining, but he added there were other steps to take to officially expand the park. "One of the things that frustrates me is that there's all these rules in place to stop bad things from happening, but, when you want something good to happen, it still requires the process to push it through," he said.

Aboriginal leaders and conservation groups hailed the announcement as a step in the right direction to protect the region's watershed. "Water is what we're living off today, and we have to protect that," Sahtu Grand Chief Frank Andrew said.

Several conservation groups urged Mr. Baird to put the same effort into his plan to address climate change.

"It might be a lot harder and maybe not as rewarding to come out in front on climate change, but we anticipate, once the land withdrawals for these particular areas wind down, we want to see the same emphasis and effort (placed) behind climate change," said Jennifer Morin, a senior conservation co-ordinator for the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.


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